(editors note:  this article originally appeared in the Tuesday, January 22, 2012 edition of the Ashland Times Gazette)


Dr. William M. Emery's passing leaves a legacy of health care in Ashland community

written by Irv Oslin T-G Staff Writer Published:

Dr. William M. Emery left a legacy in Ashland County that influenced a wide cross-section of the population and spanned three generations.

Emery, 80, died Monday morning at Samaritan Hospital. He had been in declining health for several months.

He served as county coroner for 24 years, retiring two years ago. He was a third-generation physician, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. The Emerys -- William F., George M. and William M. -- played a key role in the evolution of Ashland County's medical history.

Emery, who many knew as "Doc," was proud of that legacy. He told the Times-Gazette when he retired in 2010 that he was writing a book on the history of medicine in Ashland County.

In his drive for perfection, he sought in his research to correct inaccuracies in previous accounts of the area's medical history, according to his longtime colleague, Dr. Phillip E. Myers.

"Whatever he did, he did it to the best of his ability and really worked at it," Myers said. "He wanted it done right and he wanted to do it well."

Myers, an Ashland native, didn't plan to return after completing his medical training. However, Emery persuaded him to come back and set up a surgical practice with him.

Myers characterized Emery as an old-school doctor, practicing a wide variety of procedures before the age of specialization, yet keeping abreast of new developments in medicine.

"Bill wasn't stuck in the past, and he was pretty quick to recognize the potential of new things coming along," Myers said. "He kept things pretty up-to-date, and that's not always easy in a smaller town."

Dr. Mary MacDonald, a surgeon practicing at Samaritan Hospital, regrets that she didn't have the opportunity to practice with Emery, but enjoyed interacting with him in the medical community.

"He was just an incredible asset to this community," MacDonald said. "He was always interested in the welfare of the hospital, as well as the staff, and he maintained that interest the whole way through."

Samaritan Regional Health System CEO Danny Boggs admired Emery on a professional and personal level.

"My first reaction this morning was the loss of a friend and golf buddy," Boggs said. "I think about the legacy he and his family provided for health care in this community. I'll miss him as a friend more than anything else."

To fellow Rotarian Seth Gasche, Emery personified the ideals of that organization.

"Doc Emery exemplified what a true Rotarian stands for: service above self -- not only in his personal life but with his patients, the community and as county coroner," Gasche said.

Gasche, a funeral director with Denbow-Primm-Kemery, also dealt with Emery professionally.

"He is just about the finest man I've met in my entire life," Gasche said. "He was always willing to work with everybody and answer questions."

Those who worked with Emery in the safety forces and criminal justice community also appreciated that quality.

"We had a great relationship working with him on investigating traffic fatalities," Sgt. Robert Fulmer said. "He was always more than happy to explain causes of death and autopsies, which were hard for us to read. Anything we needed, he would help us with. His door was always open. We even called him a few times after he retired."

Fulmer, who was stationed at the Ashland post of the State Highway Patrol, recently retired after 34 years with the agency.

Retired Ashland Police Chief Bill Miracle also enjoyed working with Emery.

"He certainly served the community well for many years," Miracle said. "He always treated us right. He'll be missed."

Lt. Scott Smart, head of the Sheriff's Office detective bureau, appreciated Emery's willingness to share his expertise.

"He was always a great help for the Sheriff's Office when it came to dealing with death investigations," Smart said. "He was very informative and always took the time to point things out."

County Prosecutor Ramona Rogers also valued Emery's willingness to share his knowledge.

People who weren't experts in the field, especially jurors, easily understood his medical explanations and causes of death, Rogers said.

"Doc was always patient in explaining things," she said. "He was a good coroner."

Funeral arrangements are pending with Denbow-Primm-Kemery Funeral Home.

Irv Oslin can be reached at 419 281-0581, ext. 240, ioslin@times-gazette.com or @irvoslin on Twitter.